2020 Race Report #11: ABD 10 mi Time Trial Challenge

My 11th race of 2020 was the first outdoor race of the season and the replacement for the April 5th John Frasier Memorial Time Trial postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing was observed by expanding the start times between riders from the usual 30-seconds to 10 minutes. Each racer self-started because there were no officials at the start or finish lines. Instead, finishers were instructed to record their race with a GPS device and upload it to Strava for verification and awards.

The weather was hot and humid at my 10:30 am start time: 79 degrees with 86 percent humidity. The wind was from the west-southwest at 8+ mph, which meant a headwind on the first two legs of the 9.81 mile course. There were four entries in my age-group.

My goal was to improve my average speed to 24 mph. I had installed the first two of three speed improvements to my race bike: ceramic bearings in the bottom bracket and both aero wheels to reduce friction, and shorter crank arms to allow increased power at higher cadences. (The third improvement will be the installation of higher-angled aerobar extensions to use my arms to block the wind striking my exposed chest.)

I started right on time and quickly accelerated to 24 mph. I averaged 23.53 mph for the first 2.7 miles before turning directly into the wind. My average speed dropped to 20.37 mph for the next 1.8 miles. I was able to maintain 20.46 mph average during the next 2.7 miles despite a short, steep climb that slowed me to 9 mph. The final 2.5 miles to the finish line, even with a tailwind, was my most disappointing section at 19.14 mph average. My final time was 0:26:17 (22.3 mph) and a second place finish. The winning time was 0:25:04 (23.48 mph).

Overall, there were a couple of takeaways from this race. First, pack sunscreen in my equipment bag and use it. I got sunburn on my neck and the back of my hands from several hours in the direct sunlight. There was absolutely no shade on the course. Second, check that my power pedals are connected to my computer. I was unable to establish that connection so I had no power data during the race. I had to rely solely on my heart rate, which is not as reliable an indicator of effort. During the race, my heart rate was consistently at, or slightly above, my lactate threshold. It is likely that I started too fast, which would have been avoided with the more responsive power data. Finally, complete my third speed improvement before my next race, which includes an updated bike fitting. This should improve my aerodynamics into a headwind.

Race replay: ABD 10 MI Time Trial Challenge

My next live race is tentatively the Midwest Regional 20 KM Time Trial Championship, on Sunday, July 12, which I raced last year to a fourth place finish in 0:31:03 (21.9 mph).